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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have just harvested about a bushel of turkish bay leaves (laurus nobilus) and we want to know if they are best used as fresh leaves, can we freeze them fresh, or should we dry them and then freeze them?  We notice that the dried leaf has more fragrance then the fresh leaf but we also heard that the fresh leaf has a stronger, more complex flavor.  Thank you.
 

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I think that like most herbs, the flavor profile changes a bit between fresh and dried. I have a bay leaf tree in my backyard so I use fresh all the time, I generally prefer it. I do however, on occasions, dry a leaf or two, then turn it into powder to use as a spice for example to marinate pork cubes for Spanish style pinchos. 
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thank you.  we needed to trim back the shrubs and ended up with an abundance of bay leaves.   we are giving most away, using some for cooking, and looking into making an oil for skin care.  we appreciate any insights, thanks again
 

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I would use as much as I can while still fresh.

I would freeze some right away, for example in a zip lock, to use in soups, stews and braises (I've actually never done this but I can't imagine why it wouldn't work).

I would dry some slowly in the oven and conserve them in a tin box.
 

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I've never had fresh bay leaves to experiment with... but I've frozen ****** Lime leaves and that worked out okay. I cant tell the diff between fresh and frozen, but I may not be a highly discriminating user. I imagine you'd have the same success with bay. I'm jealous, BTW, I keep thinking about growing a bay tree/bush but never got around to seeing if it is even feasible where I live.
 

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BrianShaw, I think it should be very feasible in California.   We are growing ours in New Orleans on the West Bank where it is very humid and never freezes for more than an hour or so, once a year, if that.   We have one on a neighboring property that has grown over 30 ft tall.  Check with a very good local garden supply and see who has cultivated one that works well in your environment, but.  I think you need to be specific to ask for a "Laurus Nobilis" and not a "Umbellularia" which we've heard is more common in CA but not as desirable for some chefs.   
 

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.......... I think you need to be specific to ask for a "Laurus Nobilis" and not a "Umbellularia" which we've heard is more common in CA but not as desirable for some chefs.
GREAT point. The bay trees that grow in the SF bay area all produce "bay" leaves that have the aroma of menthol and therefore are not meant for cooking. But when I lived there I would always stuff handfuls of those leaves underneath my bed sheets for an aromatic night drifting in the clouds!
 
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Brian-

We lived in Santa Barbara for six years and it was our observation that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING grows just fine in Southern California- if it can get water.

Mike /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
 

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Will be checking out the local nursery. Apparently the will grow even in the hot part of LA where I live. Water, that's all it will take!
Not even water (other than whatever water it can find on its own). I live in NoHo, which is pretty darn hot. I never water my bay leaf tree, there are no sprinklers anywhere near it, and it's thriving.
 

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Not even water (other than whatever water it can find on its own). I live in NoHo, which is pretty darn hot. I never water my bay leaf tree, there are no sprinklers anywhere near it, and it's thriving.
...perhaps 'cuz of all the water that the southlanders have been stealing from the Owens Valley for almost a hundred years.
 

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I've got a bay leaf tree growing in my front yard,  If I don't trim it every month or so, my neighbor gets all hot and bothered and starts attacking it with some kind of giant kitchen shears.  I can't give the stuff away, I have to compost it.  Rosemary, on the other hand grows out of control as well, but I can trade a bushel or two of rosemary for a case of burgers with my local butcher.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the west coast (Wash state and B.C.) it rains, a lot.  Most people leave their car windshield wipers on the "on" position from Nov. to April and never touch it again.  The soil in my front yard won't tolerate much, its full of stones  and "presents" (bits of conduit, shingles, weeping tile, joist hangers, etc) the builders left behind 18 years ago.

Nothing like running out of the kitchen in the middle of something, dashing out in the rain, to pluck of a few leaves to toss into rice or whatever I'm cooking......
 

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That's great to hear! I'm thinking about pot cultivation. Mostly to control size. Do you think that is a wise idea?
I suppose so but honestly I wouldn't be the right person to ask, I rarely grow things in pots (except for seedlings). But I do believe that limiting the size of the roots will limit the size of the tree.

Otherwise, just plant it outside and get one of these...:

 

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I dry mine all the time. Place on sheet pan, put in window. 2-3 days later place in mason jars until needed. I am fortunate in that I have a friend who has a giant (30'-ish) Bay tree over a hundred years old. So a literal, never ending supply... Anyway, I don't notice a lot of diff. between the fresh and dried. Both very fragrant. Slightly more so when fresh obviously. My 2 cents...
 

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I have one in a pot I bring in doors for the winter, outside in the warm weather.  Fresh bay leaves year 'round.  I prefer cooking with fresh over dried.  You can release the essential oils with fresh that you cant with dried.
 

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Is it a 1:1 substitution when using fresh rather than dried?
I'm not sure. Fresh is pretty potent. I often taste my braises after a while and if I find the bay leaf taste is already very present after a while (sometimes after only 20mn for example), I'll remove the leaf(s). I think I would start with less fresh (than dried), taste and correct.
 
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